Interview with Yuwei Rita Li from United States

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Yuwei Rita Li

Yuwei Rita Li, a concept artist in the video game industry, transforms ideas into captivating visual designs. Her work combines inspiration from nature, diverse cultures, mythology, and architecture, aiming to tell stories, create experiences, and inspire others through her art.

Interview with the 2023 Vega Digital Awards Winner -
Yuwei Rita Li

1Please give us a brief bio of yourself and your design background.

Hi! My name is Yuwei Rita Li and I am a conceptual artist and illustrator based in Los Angeles, United States. I graduated from ArtCenter College of Design with a major in Entertainment Design.

Currently, I work as a concept artist in the video game industry where I create visual designs that bring ideas to life. I draw inspiration from nature, diverse cultures, mythologies, and architecture, and I blend these influences with my imagination into my concept art. Through my art, I want to share stories, create experiences, and inspire others.

2What made you become/why did you choose to become a digital designer/artist?

Since my childhood, a fervent love for art has been an integral part of me. Early on, I drew inspiration from the realms of games, movies, and animation. With time, my curiosity extended to the wonders of nature and diverse global cultures. This journey has allowed me to blend these influences seamlessly into my art, where my imagination truly comes alive on paper.

Later on, I realized that art, especially concept art and illustration, had the power to convey ideas and spark inspiration in others. In the digital realm, I discovered the freedom to experiment with various styles and techniques. This naturally led me to combine my passion for art and design with digital media, resulting in more refined designs.

3Tell us more about your business/company, job profile, and what you do.

I’m a concept artist and illustrator! In games and movies, most of the environments, mood, light and color, characters, costumes, vehicles, and almost everything are designed by concept artists and that’s what I do!

At work, I create mood boards, sketches, designs and illustrations of the concept, and the other artists can use my work as guides to make the final models in the game. Most of the time, I use a combination of 3D and 2D software to achieve the best result.

4What’s your favorite kind of digital design and why?

I love the design that focuses on storytelling. Storytelling includes not only the background story but also every detail that contributes to the story: the design itself, the mood, the light and color, the composition.

Without a story behind the design, the design itself would only be a pretty picture but not something that engages the viewer.

5To you, what makes a “good” design?

As a concept artist, I would say clarity and storytelling makes a “good” design. Clarity means the design is easy for viewers to grasp, while storytelling creates a connection that makes viewers relate to the design.

In addition to these aspects, the concept of originality plays a significant role in defining a design as "good," despite the rarity of genuinely "original" designs. Originality typically emerges when I merge familiar design elements with less familiar ones, thus expanding the horizons of design.

6Describe your design style and its main characteristics.

My artistic style blends elements of both realism and stylization. I incorporate stylized features into my designs, including exaggerated shapes, vivid colors, and unique textures, while employing realistic rendering techniques that are achieved through a combination of 3D and 2D artistic methods.

I have a penchant for infusing fresh and innovative elements into my designs, preferring not to confine myself solely to realistic settings. I find particular enjoyment in crafting fantasy and science fiction concept art, drawing inspiration from the rich tapestry of real-world nature and diverse cultures!

7Tell us about your design process.

The first step involves conducting research on the aspects I'm designing, after which I construct a reference board that consolidates details about the subject matter, the intended mood, and the stylistic approach I'm pursuing.

Next, I would generate sketches inspired by the reference board, delving into various concepts and compositions. My objective is to discover the most effective means of conveying both the concept and the narrative. At times, I opt to create 3D models, utilizing them as the initial building blocks for my designs.

Ultimately, I use the 3D models as a cornerstone, overlaying them with paint to perfect the details and achieve the desired level of sophistication in the final rendering.

8Where do you draw inspiration from?

I draw inspiration from various sources, both art-related and non-art-related. I find inspiration from nature, history, mythologies and innovative technology and it helps in expanding my horizons beyond conventional art topics. Everything around me serves as a catalyst for my art.

For example, in my concept art, I explore themes like the futuristic city inspired by art nouveau and innovative architecture, the grand palaces of Mesopotamia, the mythologies of Hawaiian culture, and more. By adding real-world elements, I make my design more grounded and relatable to the viewers.

9What current trends in digital design (or really anything digital related) are you most excited about?
I’m most excited about the diverse art direction! With the emergence of AI, I value more the human touch and vision. Currently, in the game and animation industry, there are more and more projects that step out of their comfort zone and develop their unique art styles! I hope to see more diversity and creativity in the industry.
10Congratulations! As the winner of the 2023 Vega Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?
I’m very honored to be a winner of the 2023 Vega Digital Awards. It means a lot to me to receive this award distinction because it motivates me to create better designs in the future.
11Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2023 Vega Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?

My project Futuristic City won the Platinum Award in the 2023 Vega Award, and my cover art for The Murders in the Rue Morgue won the Gold Award.

Futuristic City is my personal passion project where I combine classic architecture styles with sci-fi designs. It is a great example of how I blend the motifs I am interested in and add my spin to them, to create unique designs.

The cover art I came up with for "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" captures the mystery and horror vibes of the story. I went with a monochromatic color scheme and a dramatic composition. I chose to include these projects in my portfolio because it showcases my skills and artistic style as a concept artist and illustrator.

12What was the biggest challenge with this project?
The biggest challenge with this project was figuring a way to combine the two styles smoothly together and make them believable. I had to do a lot of research on the historical and cultural aspects of these styles and find a way to balance them with the futuristic and technological aspects. I also had to consider the mood and atmosphere I wanted to create. It was a complex and creative process but I enjoyed it very much.
13How has winning an Award developed your practice/career?
The Vega Digital Awards win has greatly elevated my profile and recognition in the design industry. I am very excited to what opportunities come my way!
14What are your top three (3) favorite things about the digital industry?
Creativity, diversity, and innovation.
15Where do you see the evolution of digital industry going over the next 5-10 years?
I think that AI will be a big challenge and also a big opportunity for the digital industry. I am happy to see that with the help of AI, more creators are able to utilize it to further enhance their projects. This also makes me realize how important it is to keep updated and always learn new things. With proper and regulated use of AI, I believe it can help us designers to explore new possibilities and styles in digital design.
16If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring Vega Award submitter, what advice would you give them?
Don’t be afraid of trying a new design idea! A good project always comes from a passion project, something that you enjoy doing and want to share with others, all the more reason to do personal projects. This is the best way to learn new skills, find new inspirations, and express your creativity!
17What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the digital industry?
I would recommend them to go to nature and observe the beauty and diversity of life. Nature can be a great source of inspiration for digital design as it offers many patterns, shapes, colors, and textures that can be applied to different projects. In terms of the technical skills, I would recommend them to explore various online resources and tutorials.
18Who has inspired you in your life and why?
One of my favorite manga artist group CLAMP has inspired me a lot since childhood. Their stories, their way of telling a story, and their graphic art styles have influenced me even today!
19What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?
My key to success is to be open-minded, not afraid of challenges, and keep learning. I try not to say NO to new ideas, or new technologies before I try it or do research into it.

Winning Entries

Futuristic City | 2023

Futuristic City | Yuwei Rita Li
“Futuristic City” envisions a future city where futuristic architecture incorporates elements of art deco, art nouveau ...
(read more at Vega Digital Awards)

The Murders in the Rue Morgue Cover Art | 2023

The Murders in the Rue Morgue Cover Art | Yuwei Rita Li
“Victorian Detective” is the cover art for The Murders in the Rue Morgue (ART STORIA | Literary Classics) ...
(read more at Vega Digital Awards)

Yuwei Rita Li

Yuwei Rita Li, a concept artist in the video game industry, transforms ideas into captivating visual designs. Her work combines inspiration from nature, diverse cultures, mythology, and architecture, aiming to tell stories, create experiences, and inspire others through her art.

Read more about this interview with Kate Pine from Canada, the Platinum Winner of the 2023 Vega Digital Awards.